ATLANTA, Tx -- The mayor here is also an Army reservist -- a high ranking officer – Travis Ransom -- who took part in America’s final efforts in the war in Afghanistan.
Ransom showed us the battalion coin from the deployment that is symbolic of a defense fortification built by the ancient Romans under their emperor. It's known as Hadrian’s Wall.
“Somebody had to be the last guy on the wall, and we, in our task force were the last guys on the ground in Afghanistan. The last guys to stand watch as America ended its longest war," Ransom explained.
While everyone in the battalion got the coin, Ransom also earned a Bronze Star.
“It's not something I expected,” he said, modestly.
Ransom was the command sergeant major of an expeditionary military intelligence battalion. But because of COVID-19, and a shrinking military presence, he had to take on additional roles of other officers. He wasn’t the only one.
"When you send people outside of the country, you lose capability. And so you would wind up with soldiers who were doing two and three people's jobs, because you needed that capability to maintain secure the security that we needed," Ransom said. "And the soldiers performed outstanding."
Their mission was to vet local nationals, collected intelligence, and monitor signals of the Taliban.
During that nearly year long deployment, Ransom had to take leave from his real job that pays the bills – as an insurance agent.
"I'm blessed that I can get to do that with a very flexible job and a group that I work with who understand my calling for service,” he said.
And, of course, he also had to leave his post as mayor of the town where he grew up.
“It's filled with emotion because you’re entire formative life here was spent here," Ransom says as he drove from one of his offices to the next. "So you see things that key up memories about your childhood.
"I take ownership of the community. It's great to really make it a great place to live and raise a family. That's what we're going for. We're going for Smalltown, USA," Ransom added.
He praised the town’s mayor pro tem and the city’s manager for their "great work" in his absence.
After being appointed Mayor, Ransom then won two elections for the office unopposed.
“I don't like politics at all,” Ransom says. “I'm not about politics, I'm about policy, and not not about grandstanding. I'm about good governance.”
While America’s exit from Afghanistan turned political and messy, Ransom says this about whether the mission was worth the cost.
“For Afghani women who got to vote and participate in their form of government, and who got to get an education in the 20 years that we were there, our presence was invaluable. Our presence was life saving, and made a huge difference over those 20 years.
"And yes, they're in a very tough spot right now. But I'm hopeful for the future that a future generation of Afghans will stand up on their own down the road, and it's it's going to be a very rough road ahead,” Ransom warned.
Ransom's first military deployment was in the late 1990’s to the Balkans, shortly after entering the Army Reserve. He was also activated to perform Homeland Security duty after the 9/11 attacks, when he was sent to Fort Hood, Texas.